Mother-daughter country duo The Belles talk about their debut self-titled EP.
Omaha-bred mother-daughter duo The Belles generate engaging traditional country music for the modern age. Led by Jaymie Jones and her 20-year-old daughter, Kelli, they mix pop-rock rebellion with classic-country values, making music that appeals across generations.
Recently, the Belles debuted their self-titled EP, providing plucky tracks and dreamy harmonies that prep energetic crowds while opening for acts like Brett Eldredge, Dan + Shay, and Eli Young Band.
EP highlights include “Same Thing,” an upbeat happy-go-lucky track with an even better acoustic version.
We caught up with The Belles to talk about their EP and newfound success.
Cowboys & Indians: What do you hope audiences will take away from your new EP?
Kelli Jones: We think audiences will learn more about who we are as artists, where we come from, and feel the joy we have in harmonizing together.
Jaymie Jones: Our EP has a couple themes running through it, like “Set in My Ways” and “Didn’t Break Mine” talk about being true to yourself and being strong. Then there is the heartbreak side of “Same Thing” and “The Leavin,” which shows that it’s okay to put your heart out there and get your heart broken because that's the only way to find love and grow. I think the songs show a lot of sides to us as singers and as people.
C&I: What was the writing and recording process like?
Kelli: We had so much fun making this EP! Mickey Jack Cones produced it, and he did an amazing job. He assembled the top studio players in Nashville to play on it. We laughed a lot and ate a lot of snacks while recording this music.
C&I: Any fun memories along the way of getting the EP from concept to actual release?
Jaymie: We made work tapes of over 50 songs to narrow it down to these four. Going through that process really taught us a lot. I think my favorite day was hearing the songs come to life [when] we tracked with all the musicians. It was incredible and made all the hard work worth it.
Kelli: Some of the best memories for me were driving back to Nebraska from Nashville after getting the songs in final mix and listening to them over and over again. After working on these songs for over a year, it was surreal to hear them in their final form.
C&I: Can we expect a full album soon? If so, what can we expect?
Kelli: Hopefully soon! I’m currently writing a ton in Nashville, and I’m so excited about some of these newly written songs. I think in this new batch, you can expect personal stories, upbeat fun songs, and lots of harmony. We’ve also been out on the road a lot playing these new songs, so it’s super-cool to see people’s reactions to them.
C&I: As a mother-daughter duo, how did you all develop your signature sound?
Jaymie: When we first started out, Kelli was just 14, and we’d play coffee houses and small fairs in the summer. As Kelli grew up — she’s 20 now — she took over all the leads and developed a really identifiable voice that’s part Stevie Nicks, part Dolly, and I feel my job is just to blend with her. I sing below her, and I love to find interesting harmony parts and “lock in” so that we sound like one voice, but in harmony.
C&I: When and how did you come up with the idea to form a duo?
Kelli: Well I grew up watching my mom and her sisters sing in their band called Mulberry Lane. I always imagined I’d be a singer too, and I could naturally hear harmony from a super-young age. So eventually, I asked my mom if I could be her backup singer when she started a solo project. She said yes. I loved it so much that after two shows, and some encouragement from a few folks, I told her I wanted to be in a duo with her instead of singing backup. Mom said OK — let’s try it. And the rest is history — or herstory. We started playing in the summertime till I graduated from high school. Then we started making trips to Nashville, and I moved here a year ago at 19.
C&I: What’s your writing process like? Do you start with the lyrics or the music first?
Kelli: I’ve been co-writing in Nashville for the past year, and I’ve learned so much about writing through that process. But I started out writing songs with my mom at our kitchen table in Nebraska. Since I’ve been writing here, you really learn the craft, and, as strange as it may sound, a lot of times the lyrics and music sort of happen together.
C&I: What are some other artists who have inspired you?
Jaymie: Everyone is correct in thinking the Judds are a huge inspiration to us, as well as the Carter Family. Beyond the family bonds, we totally love the harmony in contemporary country like Maddie & Tae and the Dixie Chicks. We’re also inspired by Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain. We have a super-fun live show, and we like to rock it out on stage. But, at the same time, we like to play acoustic with just the two of us to show off our harmonies.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring?
Kelli: We’re in the process of booking a Texas tour in October. We’re super-excited about that. Then, we’re also booking out spring of 2019. In the meantime, we’re still out on the road playing a ton of live shows. Last week, we opened for Chris Lane, Jay Allen, and Cale Dodds. Next week we’re playing the Nebraska State Fair, and in September, we’re opening for Brandon Ray. We’ll also be making our Bluebird Cafe debut on October 23, 2018.
C&I: You all are from Omaha. What are some of your favorite places to visit when you go back home?
Kelli: When I’m back in my hometown, I love to hang out with my friends and go to all of my favorite restaurants in town, which include Blue Sushi, Roja, and Tasty Pizza.
Jaymie: Omaha has a really famous zoo, ranked No. 1 in the world, so if any of y’all visit Omaha, you’ll have to go to the zoo. It’s incredible. I also love to go to Husker football games at the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, which is about an hour from Omaha. When the Huskers play, the stadium is the third largest city in Nebraska. It’s such a great time anytime I get to go cheer on the Huskers.
C&I: What’s something fans might not know about you?
Kelli: A little known fact: I can burp the alphabet. It’s true.
Jaymie: We have an adorable little Corgie named Bella, and we love to take her on the road with us when we can.
For more information on The Belles and their upcoming tour dates, visit their website.